Sunday, July 31, 2011

We Will Be Your Light

A few nights ago I was reading and some of the lyrics from Hillsong United’s “Solution” suddenly came to mind:

We will be Your hands we will be Your feet
We will run this race for the least of these
In the darkest place we will be Your light
We will be Your light ...

How many times have I listened to that song without stopped to truly consider the least of this in the darkest places. That night I wasn’t even singing the song but those words came to mind. I started to think about the dark and my experiences of it.

What is darkness really? The dictionary definition says:

1. the state or quality of being dark
2. absence or deficiency of light
3. wickedness or evil
4. obscurity; concealment
5. lack of knowledge or enlightenment
6. lack of sight; blindness

I remember sensing a spiritual darkness like I had never known on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica when on a mission trip two years ago. The team went to help a ministry that reaches out to those connected with sexual exploitation. One of the nights we went out to the streets to minister, I remember there being such a strong sense of evil and the reality of the darkness and oppression we were dealing with. But I also remember sitting on our bus looking out the window thinking that if Jesus were still walking on the earth, those were the exact places he would’ve been. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and confidence rose up inside of me. When a few of us walked out to a street corner to speak with some transvestite prostitutes about the love of Jesus, the evil was prevalent but it was like a wall of peace surrounded us and I had such an assurance that Jesus was right there with us – The True Light – in the midst of the darkness...

In the last few months, I have spent some time learning a bit about India. Recently I watched a few episodes of The Story of India on PBS which included beautiful scenery and vibrant colors. The shows I saw were quite interesting however they did not depict the reality of what I have learned about this country. Last week I watched the documentary Born into Brothels about children living in the red light district of Kolkata – a place full of darkness and despair. The conditions that these children grow up in are horrible. They grow up in drug infested, poverty-stricken, filthy holes in the wall where mothers and grandmothers work as prostitutes. Abuse and manipulation is their reality and the likelihood of them ever getting out is slim. One woman in the documentary shared that “without help, they’re doomed.” She was right. They can’t get out on their own. They’re little kids with no rights whatsoever; held captive in a very dark place. They desperately need the light. And a day does not go by without me thinking and praying for the people in those dark places of India. I can’t shake it.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

This past weekend I had the opportunity to hear a (profound) message by Dr. David Jeremiah. He spoke at a Christian event at the Jersey shore and I was there because some members of my church led worship on the same night. He shared an awesome word from Romans 13:11-14:

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. – Romans 13:11-14

Dr. Jeremiah had four great points in his message that really stuck with me:
1. Watch Vigilantly
2. War Valiantly
3. Walk Virtuously
4. Wait Victoriously

At one point he reminded us about the scientific definition of darkness and how it is the absence of light. He stressed the importance of putting on the armor of light in these dark days and I was immediately brought back to my thoughts last week about darkness and light.

I wonder how many people feel a tug in their heart by the Holy Spirit to go to a dark place (like Kolkata, India) but never go because they think it’s too dark.

“I must have heard wrong.”

“I’m not qualified.”

“I don’t want to do that all by myself... all alone...”

"I have student loans."

“I don’t know the Bible as well as so-and-so.”

"I have health concerns."

“I’m not ready.”

(“I” … “I” … “I”)

Real questions … questions that have crossed my own mind since this burden for missions has become so real. I think it’s normal to wonder if my little light would even make a difference in a place as dark as the red-light district of India. I envision it like going into a desert in the darkest of night with one of those little plastic Bic lighters you buy at the counter of a gas station. What good would that do? Especially when it runs out of fluid. It barely sparks even a little. Right?

Well, yes… when the focus is inward. It’s like those whose lamp was lit then they put it under a bowl. But when the focus is upward and the dependency is on Jesus, as we put on the armor of light, what was once a barely flickering Bic light becomes a floodlight shining into the darkest of areas – because JESUS is the Light, not us.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus … not I, I, I.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is serious stuff. Even those who are definitely called by God to be the light in specific dark places such as India need to use wisdom. I don’t think that people should naively get on a plane the minute the day they hear God’s voice and just roll up to the red light district. Much insight is required for such a step. But we’re all called to let our light shine before others wherever we are on the globe. It may be in Mumbai, it may be in Brooklyn or it may be in an affluent setting where everything appears to be okay but really isn’t. Darkness is everywhere and like I was reminded this past Friday by Dr. Jeremiah, The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11). A powerful reminder of how we are to live as children of the light.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
– Ephesians 5:8-10

As much as I have a burden to go to India, I may not be called to live there. I may be only called to be a support to those who are called. But wherever I am - New York or India - I am called to live as a child of the light. I am called to live by faith – faith is what pleases the Lord. (And without faith it is impossible to please God … Hebrews 11:6).

When you think your light is not bright enough to go into the darkness, remember, it’s Jesus who is the Light in us. When we put on the armor of light, Christ in us will shine brightly before others in the darkest of places.

We will be Your hands we will be Your feet
We will run this race for the least of these
In the darkest place we will be Your light
We will be Your light…

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. – John 3:16-21

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